Cutting the purchase price nearly in half in an effort to increase profits sounds a bit insane, but that is exactly what BRP did with the Sea-Doo Spark. The SPARK is half the weight, significantly smaller, and nearly half the price of its competitors. In 2013 the personal watercraft (PWC) industry was reinvigorated by Sea-Doo’s (appropriately named) SPARK. While the market at that time kept being filled with faster, bigger and subsequently more expensive PWC, BRP intentionally delivered just the opposite for their Sea-Doo brand.
But it wasn’t Sea-Doo’s competitors that drove the SPARK’s radical aim. It was Sea-Doo’s customers. Through studying their customers, BRP recognized purchasing barriers that discouraged potential customers from entering the sport. As price, weight, and complexity had climbed over the years, PWC’s had grown to be too expensive, difficult to store, hard to tow, and tough to maintain. Their customers didn't want more features, they wanted fewer barriers of entry!
The Sea-Doo SPARK is a prime example of why we should focus on our customers instead of our competition. One-upping our competition only allows us to build upon what has already been created, whereas refocusing on our customers allows us to see opportunities for making our product radically more desirable than our competitor’s.
Let’s take a look at three ways you can refocus on your customer to pass up your competition:
1. Take a Step Back
Resist the temptation to blindly trump the specs of your competitor’s product. Instead, take a step back to identify the bigger or deeper customer problems that your competitors don't see (or haven’t looked for).
Look both above and around at the context of your product and customer.
Who is the end user of your current product?
Who does NOT currently use your product but shows interest? (Remember, the SPARK ended up serving riders that weren’t previously customers)
During the beginning of your product development process, ignore your product or what you might believe to be the design solution, instead put your effort into broadly understanding your target customer.
What are their aspirations?
What’s it like to live a day in their shoes?
Draw insights from what you observe.
Where is there opportunity to relieve your customer’s pain points?
Which of their needs/wants are going unmet?
Jumping on an opportunity that your competitors haven’t discovered for themselves allows you to blow them out of the water or maybe even leave you playing in a new territory all by yourself.
2. Be thoughtful
Once you’ve discovered a solution that will solve your customer’s needs, you should design every aspect of the product with care for the user.
Create an experience around your product.
What emotions do you want your user to experience as they use your product?
What overall mood is your customer left with when they use your product?
Make your product a delight to use.
As your customer interacts with your product, what could be made simpler, more comfortable, or even more delightful?
What does the entire use case look like as your customer interacts with your product from box opening all the way through to storage or even disposal?
Be intentional about quality.
What fidelity does your customer expect from this product?
What materials, fit and finish, will align with your customer's expectations?
By delivering your customer a delightful user experience, they’ll be left with the feeling that your product was tailored specifically to them (because it was). As a result, your product is loved more than your competitors'.
3. Turn up the Temptation
We want your customers to be drawn to your product over your competitors'. To do so, you must align your product’s aesthetics with your customer's preferences while also pushing the design to be fresh/unexpected. (dated products aren’t tempting)
Make your product more attractive to your customer at the time of purchase.
What other products does your customer gravitate to?
What are the current and future trends that are driving the market?
Once purchased, we want your product to be captivating by delivering an irresistible aesthetic. (Aesthetics are more than just how a product looks. It refers to all of the senses, how it feels, sounds, looks, smells, and even tastes.)
How could your product connect with your customers on an emotional level through their senses?
How do you want your customer to think about your product? Is it luxurious, sporty, classic…?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and since we know exactly who your target user is, we can design your product to wow them.
What colors excite them and what colors turn them away?
What forms do they prefer? Soft & organic, sharp & masculine, geometric...?
To beat out your competition, let’s ignore them. Instead, we need to put all of our focus on your customer. Your customer decides whose product is more desirable, so it only makes sense that we work to understand and then act on what it is that they desire.